Marvelous Light 2009

Charles Kiser —  March 30, 2009 — 1 Comment

Marvelous Light OriginalWHAT: Marvelous Light Retreat, an experience of spiritual renewal and cleansing

WHEN: May 1, 7:00 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.; May 2, 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

WHERE: Preston Road Church of Christ (map)

COST: $15 / person; includes 2 meals, snacks and materials

WHO: All are invited


TESTIMONIAL: “It was like a spiritual detox for my soul.” Lauren Cone, Storyliner

Reserve your spot today!

Charles Kiser


I’m a pastor, missionary, and contextual theologian in Dallas, Texas. I’m committed to equipping and coaching Christians to start fresh expressions of Christian community in Dallas County — communities of hospitality, inclusion, justice, and healing.

One response to Marvelous Light 2009

    Mark Duhrkoop July 16, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    I will preface this by saying that I am an domestic outreach director with Cityteam which of ocurse shows a bias when discussing our cpm process. But I would also preface by saying that it has taken years for us as an organization to emrace the process of cpm outlayed by David Watson, and I have had the opportunity of watching some of his development, and the still continuing working out as to the questions of tranferance of processes that have worked overseas to our work in the US.

    View of Scripture: I was uncomfortable with Watson’s view of Scripture. He had an extended conversation about distinguishing between what is biblical and what is cultural without ever admitting that Scripture is itself a culturally conditioned document. Another session concerned separating “doctrine” from what the Bible teaches, yet Watson failed to mention the degree to which every individual brings lenses to the reading of Scripture (whether they like it or not) and necessarily picks and chooses what they should obey or not. For instance, are we disobedient to God for not having a ritual of washing feet (e.g., John 13)? It takes an interpretive approach to Scripture (i.e., a hermeneutic) to make such decisions. I would rather be aware of my lenses than unaware. Watson seems to think that everyone who reads the Scriptures will arrive at the same conclusion/hermeneutic by the power of the Holy Spirit. This approach didn’t seem to work in early church history (when the most notable heretics used the Bible to support their claims) or in Stone-Campbell history (when everyone read Scripture and came to decidedly different conclusions). Watson also seems to discount the role that church history/tradition/orthodoxy plays as a source of theology and knowledge of God.
    I don’t believe that he discounts these things and in fact shows through further trainings that these things do have their place in the process of developing leaders. the concern is that as much as possible we let God do the initial teaching as we engage the “lost” and let them discover God and His relation to themselves by simply facilitating that discovery. Attemption my own stripped down approach to scripture is challenging given 40 years of christian involvement and 20 years of both cross-culutral and urban ministry. However, I have been refreshed to see the discovery that goes on of what God has to say to people each time I facilitate the starting of a new bible study amongst the lost through simplified, inductive process
    and keep out of the way. If (rarely) someone has a strangely different point of view of what scripture is saying, I have yet to see that not dealt with by the group.

    •View of church: I was uncomfortable with Watson’s view of the church only to the extent he expressed that churches in his network are closed to unbelievers. If unbelievers want to be part of a church, they should join a Bible study and start a new one. They are discouraged from participating with an existing one. This decision seems to discount the way the church is the embodiment of the gospel as a community (as with the Mennonite tradition). It also seems to reverse the current trend in our context of allowing people to belong before they’re expected to believe. Watson seems adamant that people must believe before belonging to a church. Paul seems to assume in 1 Corinthians 14 that unbelievers participated in the life of the church and even encountered God as a result.
    David Watson has shared clearly in various trainings that there is a distinction between a fellowship of both believers and searchers, and a group of believers who are baptised. This is primarily a metrics question for the purpose of defining and reporting of true church planting movements. It is clear from the passage of the great comission “while others still doubted” that the community in relationship to Christ embodies both those who are seeking to know more about Him as well as those who are seeking to know Him.

    •View of teaching: Watson has a very low view of teaching, at least in the traditional sense. Churches that are dependent upon teachers with rich education and knowledge are not likely to reproduce rapidly or perhaps even at all. Watson also critiques the traditional paradigm of teaching because it often has little to do with obedience to God and life change. I’m with him all the way on this. Yet the teaching role is very apparent in Scripture, both in contexts with non-believers and believers. Paul mentions in Colossians 1:7-8, for instance, how the Colossian church was taught the gospel by Epaphras (not led through an inductive Bible study). Rather than reframe the role of teaching in a more dialogical, conversational light (as I think is consistent with Jesus’ teaching in Scripture), Watson stretches the Scriptures to argue that teaching is reserved for believers / church in Scripture, not unbelievers. It seems better (and more biblical) to think of ways the teaching role could be made more obedience and reproduction-oriented rather than discount it totally for unbelievers.
    While still working through what you said…I think this is possibly too strong a statement. As I reflect back in my own utilization of the process; I do slide back and forth into a teaching/mentor/coaching role with those in a fellowship who seem to be rising up as potential leaders. This would mesh with the training I’ve had with David even as you work with developing those “lost” who are facilitating the bible study in week three or four of a new group. I have a teaching background and it is a challenge to me to not go straight there, however, what a joy it has been to sit and see the insights gained from their own discussion and discovery of what God is telling them both individually and as a group for the first time.

    •People of peace: I think the people of peace concept is a brilliant missionary concept but have wondered if it is a culturally-specific method rather than a universal principle. My own context leads me to think this way: urban Dallas, where social groups are fragmented and disconnected. There is no overarching, preexisting sense of community here. There are no extended family units. The dominant demographic is single professional. I asked Watson about this and he suggested looking for affinity groups that exist in the community (e.g. a fitness gym). Yet existing social groups I’ve been part of in our context (e.g., sports teams, civic groups) do not seem cohesive enough for a person of peace to open a door for an entire group to encounter God and the gospel. Perhaps we should hold alongside the person of peace approach a geographical approach, common in missional church plantings, that treats a neighborhood as a social unit. Maybe it’s both/and and not either/or.
    As you follow David and Cityteam’s work as we develop these processes domestically, you will see that these questions are being addressed. Working in a mission setting in Portland, we have seen a wide range of who is the percieved family of a Person of Peace (actual families, co-renters, two or three apartments, homeless tent camp) You would be correct in looking at it as an either/or as long as it is the group’s perception of who they are as family.

    •Rapid reproduction as the end goal: The undercurrent I sensed from missionaries at the workshop was, “Our mission efforts are slow and frustrating. We should listen to this guy because his churches are reproducing rapidly and reaching a lot of people.” In fact, when Watson was challenged by a workshop participant, he retorted by saying, “That’s fine if you disagree with me, but we’ve planted 200,000 churches doing it this way.” Granted, we should desire for people to connect to God, but growth as an end goal and justification seems misguided. Cancer grows and reproduces at a rapid rate, but that is not a good thing (as I’ve reflected on before). Rapid growth is not the end goal; the goal is rather faithful embodiment of the gospel. God is the one who grows the church, not a particular process. At times, Watson and company seem to stretch biblical texts concerning the church and missionary method (i.e., people of peace) to serve this end goal of rapid reproduction
    My goals on paper could look to be numbers, but the underlying understanding of my training, my reporting, and our belief… are people who are discovering God, being obedient to His will both personal, and as outlined in scripture, to be a fervent disciple who is actively discipling others. This is by developing within the process from day one a DNA of both utter obedience and immediate sharing of what one is learning and experiencing from God.

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